What walks out, must walk back

With Katy off at camp for two weeks I thought we should go somewhere for the weekend so I talked Heath into Amicalola Falls State Park, which is a couple of hours away and not far from camp should there be an emergency. We went there in 2001 but haven’t been since.

There’s camping at the park but there’s also a really nice lodge and that’s where we stayed. We had a ground-level suite. It was at the end and really quiet and had a little private patio.

View from the room window.
View from the room window.
View from the patio.
View from the patio.
Sunset from the patio.
Sunset from the patio.

 

We got there Friday night and decided to go take a walk. We were just going to look at the falls but decided to walk down to the first observation deck — 425 steps. Well, what walks out must walk back. So after chatting with another couple and admiring the falls, we dragged ourselves back up the steps. I didn’t quite die but it was touch and go for awhile there!

Us at the first observation platform in 2001.
Us at the first observation platform in 2001.
And the same spot in 2015. There's not nearly as much water as we haven't had much rain and they've redone the railing.
And the same spot in 2016. There’s not nearly as much water as we haven’t had much rain. Also, they’ve redone the railing.

 

Top of the falls
Top of the falls
Another view of the top
Another view of the top
From the bottom
From the bottom
Another view
Another view

The visitor’s center has GPS units you can rent to do a GPS Selfie Scavenger Hunt so we did that on Saturday. There were eight coordinates and you had to take a photo at each one. Then at the end you got a t-shirt, although they only had one left and it’s an XXL. But we got it!

This was the first coordinate with the sign showing 8.5 miles to the start of the AT. Heath was still trying to figure out his phone's camera.
This was the first coordinate with the sign showing 8.5 miles to the start of the AT. Heath was still trying to figure out his phone’s camera.

This isn’t the selfie but the third clue was the “moonshine truck”. Sometime in the 40s or 50s a couple of teenagers were running moonshine and the revenuers were on them so they ditched the truck and took off and the truck has been there ever since. Someone uncovered a few bottles of the hooch many years later. I’m sure they sampled it to make sure it was safe!

Moonshine truck.
Moonshine truck.

So I mentioned that on Friday night we went down and up the 425 steps between the top of the falls and the first overlook. Well, there are another 125 steps between the first overlook and the base of the falls. For the scavenger hunt we started at the visitor’s center at the base of the falls then walked up all 600 steps. That was yesterday and my calves are still sore! After we got to the top we had to go to the approach trail for a photo on the bridge and then ended up back at the lodge for our last photo on the patio. We ran into the activities director who suggested we finish up with a glass of wine!

The last selfie ("usie", I guess) on the patio.
The last selfie (“usie”, I guess) on the patio.

Also on Saturday there were some volunteer cavers rappelling the falls to pick up trash. They picked up about 55 pounds. A lot of it is just stuff people accidentally dropped. We were on one of the overlooks and I watched a bottle of eye drops fall out of a lady’s jacket pocket, through the landing and into the falls. It happened too quickly to try to catch it. She said she was glad she moved her money and credit card!

Rappeller on the falls.
Rappeller on the falls.

After we recovered from all that walking and had some lunch there was a bird of prey talk in the lobby. I didn’t get a picture of the buzzard but I was sitting next to him and boy did he smell bad! The ranger doing the program had three types of owls and a red-tailed hawk.

I tried to get a picture of the red tail. The ranger spun him around kind of fast as she said he's a "projectile pooper".
I tried to get a picture of the red tail. The ranger spun him around kind of fast as she said he’s a “projectile pooper”.

 

Barred owl, one of the four types of owls found in Georgia.
Great Horned Owl, one of the four types of owls found in Georgia.

We only saw one bear but he was hanging out in the lobby so we got an up-close look.

Bear front
Bear front
Bear back.
Bear back

Here’s a map of the entire trail to kind of put things in perspective.

Not a great photo, but you get the idea.
Not a great photo, but you get the idea.
Nature's cupholder.
Nature’s cupholder.
A perfect fit.
A perfect fit.

On Saturday evening I signed up for a campfire over at the campgrounds. It turns out we were the only ones who signed up and then a dad and his son who were camping wandered over. The activities director was in charge and we had fun visiting with him. The camp sites are really nice, they’re level and you can park at each site. We really need to take Katy camping there sometime. However, if we do, I’ll pass on the stairs! The other neat thing they have is called the Hike Inn. Katy’s Girl Scout troop was going to do it but then the leader’s husband developed what turned out to be ALS and all thoughts of a big trip had to go. But what it is, is a really nice lodge at the end of an 8.5 mile strenuous hike. It’s for people who like to hike but want a soft bed and hot shower waiting for them at the end.

We just collapsed on Saturday night, we were so tired. Sunday morning I could barely walk. Heath had been doing a lot of walking on the treadmill so he wasn’t too bad, but going down the steps really took its toll. We ate breakfast and bought a few souvenirs. I wanted a t-shirt that said “I climbed the steps and survived” but they didn’t have that. The lady showed me some shirts that said “Hiked it and liked it” and I asked if they had “Hiked it and nearly died”. She suggested I write that in.

On the way home I wanted to go through either Dahlonega or Helen on the way home and Dahlonega was closer so we stopped off there and wandered through the few shops that were open at noon on Sunday.

 

This old car was advertising the Fouth of July parade.
This old car was advertising the Fouth of July parade.
We didn't touch the car!
We didn’t touch the car!
Anyone remember these?
Anyone remember these?

Heath found a place to park himself in a little shopping center.

I'll just wait right here.
I’ll just wait right here.

 

 

 

 

 

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